2003 News Story

Tragic deaths reported in crowding at Mina

Fourteen pilgrims died in Mina today because of crowded conditions about one mile from the site of the ritual pebble-throwing that is part of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Others sustained moderate injuries; all but two were later discharged from hospital in good condition. The incident occurred at 10.30 a.m. this morning. The deceased were three women from India, three men and one woman from Pakistan, two men and one woman from Egypt, a woman from Iran, and a man from Yemen. Two of the victims have not yet been identified.

Otherwise, the 1423 Hajj has been free of casualties, with no traffic accidents and no epidemic diseases. Moreover, there have been only 110 cases of heat exhaustion, far fewer than last year.

The total number of pilgrims is estimated to be 1,924,242. Of these, 1,431,012 came from overseas, a record number, with 45 percent of them women. Most of the 493,230 pilgrims from inside the Kingdom were non-Saudis.

Addressing the pilgrims at the Namirah Mosque yesterday, the Kingdom's Grand Mufti Shaikh Abdulaziz Al Ashaikh warned of the malicious campaign against Islam, and urged Muslims to adhere to their religion. Islam, he said, is the only way for the unity of the country, affirming that if a state returns to its religion, no power can overcome it.